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February 27, 2012
Hines on Amazon Re-Pricing Authors' Books
Jim Hines, whose blog entry I referenced last week, has a new post up detailing yet another bit of obnoxious meddling in authors' self-publishing efforts. According to the post "Who Controls Your Amazon E-book Price?" the answer is Amazon, and you can't do jack about it.
Last time the issue was Amazon hosing e-book readers as part of its war with publishers. This time it's the customer who gets the good end of the deal and the self-publishing author who gets to suffer. The reason is that Amazon not only controls the price you pay for a self-published book but in doing so it controls the royalty it pays the author. If you are someone like Hines and price your book at USD 2.99 then you expect to get royalties based on that price.
Certainly that's how it works with books published by a standard publishing house. Amazon, like any retailer, is free to change the cover price - often by discounting - but it still pays off the publishing house as if it had sold the book at full price. However if you are self-publishing through Amazon then it has sole discretion to discount your book AND pay you royalties based on the discounted amount. Ain't that grand? No one can argue that this isn't part of the Amazon Terms of Service, though the language does seem to leave them a great deal of wiggle room. I am reminded of the blog post from mid-January about Konrath making $100,000 and how necessary it is for him to manage his pricepoints actively, with experiments and data gathering.
As Hines says, "Sometimes going it alone sucks". Major publishing houses may not be the greatest institutions in the world, but they do serve a number of useful purposes. If one is going to self-publish, one really needs to police every step of the process oneself.
(h/t Cory & Boingboing for the original pointer.)
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